- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1136435
- First Name Jennifer
- Last Name Gresko
- Discipline Other: Math and Sciences
Karen Nave, Rio Salado College, Karen.Nave@riosalado.edu
Within the last five years there has become a crucial shortage of math and science teachers. This shortage has become a paramount, critical problem in Arizona with many 7th through 12 grade math and science classroom not having a teacher much less a highly qualified teacher. The primary goal of the SMILE project is to recruit STEM professionals who will become highly qualified teachers in math and science. These STEM professionals bring not only their content expertise, but their real life experiences in industry.
The overarching goals for the project are to:
1. Recruit 40 STEM Professionals to participate in a one-year training program to become 6th – 12th grade math and science teachers (Arizona Department of Education recently changed the secondary certification from 7th -12 grade to include 6th – 12th grade)
2. Train 40 STEM Professionals to be 7th-12th grade math and science teachers
3. Increase the number of 7th-12th grade math and science teachers available to Arizona schools.
1. Recruited school district partners resulting in a total of thirty-one districts identifying a pool of master teachers in math and science with five years of teaching experience to be district mentor/cooperating teachers.
2. Partnered with twenty industries and professional associations providing Noyce Scholars Program progress information has resulted in helping the recruitment efforts.
3. Recruited and trained 28 Noyce Scholars since program beginning.
4. Provided coursework focusing on pedagogy and including 150 hours of field experience and 12 weeks of student teaching.
5. Conducted on-site workshops and six webinars for Noyce pre-service teachers. These workshops were also conducted as summer workshops and open to other Educator Preparation Program students as well as professional development opportunities for current classroom teachers.
6. Provided professional growth opportunities through conference attendance. Provided professional development opportunities for scholars during their first year of the program through Noyce Western Regional Conference, Arizona Science Teachers Association Conference, Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics Conference, local workshops sponsored by the Science Foundation Arizona, the Arizona K12 Center, and Arizona STEM Club Conference.
The goals of the project are being achieved with solid partnerships with 31 school districts throughout Arizona and 20 industries/professional associations? recruitment efforts. Recruiting qualified STEM professionals has occurred through screening applicants who have the aptitude and passion for teaching. Training these content expertise in instructional pedagogy focusing on classroom management and student engagement has provided teachers who are well equipped to work in high needs district. Through professional growth opportunities, the scholars have learned a variety of strategies to engage 7th-12th grade students in math and science. Thus the project is providing a pipeline of qualified STEM professionals who are successfully transitioning to become teachers.
During this project over 39 STEM professionals have been recruited with 25 becoming highly qualified certified STEM Teachers. The project has found that these analytical pre-service teachers are experts in content, but need to be trained to truly engage the 21st century student. Therefore, through mentoring and professional growth opportunities, these Noyce scholars are becoming successful teachers.
Another finding the SMILE program has brought to light is discovering influences which deter encore STEM professionals, who may be baby boomers, from transitioning to a teaching career. In Arizona educator?s salaries dissuade potential STEM career changers because there is a significant salary difference between private sector employment and education careers. Many encore professionals need to maintain an income given widespread savings shortfalls for Baby Boomer workers who must work during retirement. STEM companies are giving professionals compensations to stay in the workforce.
The program has provided a much needed pipeline of STEM teachers who are prepared to teach in high-need districts. Understanding factors that influence STEM professionals becoming teachers remains essential for establishing effective policies and procedures. The program has definitely identified key characteristics of encore STEM professionals seeking teacher certification. These primary characteristics are being more mature and professional, having more industry work experience, and having a strong work ethic. Consequently, the combination of these characteristics is helping make math and science classroom come alive and generate more student interest in math and science. By providing this pipeline of STEM teachers, the SMILE Noyce Scholar Program is influential in training the next generation of mathematicians and scientists.